DALLAS — Kirby Smart, who still has at least four assistant coaching positions and possibly a strength and conditioning coach to hire for his staff at Georgia, said Monday he’s not upset that renowned Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran declined an opportunity to come to Athens.
“I’m happy for Scott,” said Smart, who’s in Dallas this week preparing Alabama’s defense for the national semifinal game against Michigan State in Thursday night’s Cotton Bowl. “Scott’s got a great opportunity to stay at a great place. Scott and I are good friends. It’s a decision he had to make.”
Smart has hired five assistants for his staff at Georgia: offensive coordinator Jim Chaney (Pittsburgh), offensive line coach Sam Pittman (Arkansas), outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer (retained from Mark Richt’s staff), defensive line coach Tracy Rocker (retained) and defensive assistant Glenn Schumann (brought by Smart from Alabama). That likely leaves four staff positions to fill, including defensive coordinator, unless Smart opts to be his own coordinator. Smart had hoped to retain running backs coach Thomas Brown but Brown had a change of heart and opted to join Richt at Miami.
Georgia has a director of strength and conditioning, Mark Hocke, on staff but it’s not certain if he will be retained. Hocke worked under Cochran at Alabama for six years before being hired by Georgia last season.
Smart is attempting to focus on just Michigan State this week but that didn’t stop media members from asking about a number of topics related to his job at Georgia, including filling out the remainder of his coaching staff.
“I don’t want to put a timeline on that,” he said. “It’s not something I’m worried about. Again, right now, I’m not dealing with that. I’m dealing with Michigan State, 24/7. It’s the most important thing to me. It’s the most important thing to these kids. There will be time for that and there will be a place for that and we’re moving towards that.”
Smart also was asked about the unusual situation of having his replacement, former Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, already in the building. Smart acknowledged that Pruitt is assisting Alabama in an unofficial capacity.
When asked if Pruitt had moved into his office, Smart laughed and said: “Yeah, we’re both high school coaches sons, so we’re sharing the office. I have a lot of respect for the job he’s done. He and I are good friends. He’s not really allowed to coach on the field but he’s been a part of (things) — I guess we’ve (had) two weeks or so. He’s done a good job what he’s able to do.”